Due to the current pandemic, people are shopping online more than ever. This means distribution warehouses have become very busy places where goods need to be transported quickly but safely – and that’s where LoadRunner comes in.
Developed by engineers at the German Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Logistics, the LoadRunner is a flat, omnidirectional, flat-wheeled robotic vehicle that can travel up to 10 meters (33 ft ) every second.
Driven by four electric motors, each capable of carrying a maximum payload of 30 kg (66 lb), navigating through the warehouse via onboard optical cameras detects known landmarks in the building . When the LoadRunner reaches its destination, it brakes in such a way that its cargo slides off the vehicle and onto the delivery platform.
Because multiple LoadRunners can be stored in a warehouse at the same time, they communicate with each other over 5G, acting as a collaborative group in which collisions are avoided. This swarm behavior also allows two or more vehicles to work together, carrying loads too large or too heavy for a LoadRunner to self-manage.
Additionally, each vehicle has the ability to tow cargo in up to four interlinked trailers.
In a recent real-world test of the technology, a team of about 60 LoadRunner was able to successfully process 13,000 parcels per hour. Fraunhofer is currently developing a version of the outdoor vehicle that can be used in applications such as moving cargo between warehouses, or even towing luggage cart at airports.